Let All the Stars Shine

Wednesday, June 1 2011

Everyone in your organization will fulfil their potential to be a star in their own role only if your organization allows and encourages it.

Original Kids Theatre Company (OKTC), North America’s largest children’s theatre company, is all about letting ordinary kids shine on stage, no matter what role they play. How OKTC works with kids provides a good example of how your organization can let everyone shine.

Here is what I learned from OKTC while serving as a member of their board of directors.

Cast people who fit the role. Placing people in roles that match their skills, interests and personality ensures they learn to play their part quickly and effectively.

Help people see what the story is about and their place in it. OKTC helps the kids understand how the story delivers the message behind the play.

Clarify individual roles. Original Kids learn the part their character plays in the story. They learn the script and interpret it, under careful direction. On the job, people work better when they understand the functions they perform and the contribution they make to the team and the organization.

Remove hidden barriers to performance. Look for administrative processes with unnecessary steps and delays, which interfere with getting things done. Bring people together to identify and simplify them.

Help people focus on their highest payoff activities. Ask people to list their top five and bottom five payoff activities, indicating the value each type returns in dollars/hour and the number of hours/week they spend on each. Ask them to estimate the potential annual gain by moving one hour/week from low to high payoff activities.

Create the right working climate. Original Kids is immersed in a milieu of support, safety, encouragement, and responsibility. Help your employees describe their best performance climate and take actions to create it.

Celebrate and exploit differences. OKTC encourages kids to be themselves and to value differences in a safe environment. Every kid gives their best in their own fashion, knowing that others will appreciate how they shine.

Fuel their fire with positive reinforcement. OKTC staff tell kids how they are doing a great job. Constantly. Kids build self-confidence and a sense of self-worth, and they deliver their best performance.

Train and coach people in the best performance techniques. Rehearsals are time spent showing kids how to create their characters, observing what they do, and giving them pointers on how to do it better.

Provide the best coaching staff. OKTC hires the best local directors, voice coaches, and choreographers.

Build teamwork, not internal competition. Original Kids experiences the results of close coordination and support during rehearsals and on stage. They learn that competing for attention makes everyone look worse.

Provide the right resources. OKTC provides full costumes, sound, lighting, music…everything necessary for a professional production. Identify everything your employees need to perform at their best and provide it.

Give them room and encourage them to stretch within their role. People perceive limitations about their abilities. Encourage employees to risk doing something in a new way, recognizing they may fall short of expectations. From their experience, they will find better ways to do their job.

Help them make an even greater contribution and take on more challenges. Original Kids participants move to more challenging roles, gaining skills and confidence as they play a greater part in the success of the production.

Put everyone on stage. Publicly show your appreciation for the results created by every team. Emphasize that teamwork created the results and recognize those in supporting roles. At the end of every performance, the actors point to the sound, lighting and other support people to share their applause.

What are the results? Original Kids participants feel a much stronger sense of self-worth and self-confidence. They build a stronger attitude of responsibility and contribution to the organization. They feel the power of teamwork. They play their part to the best of their ability. After every performance, the audience buzzes with discussion about what they experienced.

For your organization, its performance will be powerful, dynamic and effective to the point that your clients will talk to others about their experience in dealing with you. Why? Because every employee becomes a star in their own role, no matter the size of their part.